Necrotizing lymphadenitis in systemic lupus erythematosus Kikuchi's disease or a Kikuchi's-like disease?

Bruno Tumiati, Patrizia Casoli, Franco Perazzoli, Alberto Cavazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kikuchi's disease or histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis is a recognized cause of benign lymphadenopathy, although the current clinical literature also supports a link with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Eight patients represent all the cases of Kikuchi's disease admitted to our hospital from 1990 to 1997. They were all young women of median age of 31 years (range 22-43 years). All patients showed cervical lymphadenopathy, and in two cases splenomegaly was present. In one patient, the diagnosis of lupus preceded the onset of Kikuchi's disease by 5 months. In 4 other patients, antinuclear antibodies (ANA) were positive at titers ranging between 1:80 and 1:2560 and were associated with leukopenia ranging from 1190 to 2800 white blood cells/mm3 when the diagnosis of Kikuchi's disease was made. Among these, 3 patients developed SLE after periods ranging from 6 to 25 months. The other ANA positive patient and the 2 remaining ANA negative patients did not develop any autoimmune disease after 2-4 years of follow-up. The differential diagnosis between Kikuchi's disease and lupus lymphadenitis cannot always be clarified histologically. We recommend that patients with necrotizing lymphadenitis, leukopenia, and ANA be closely followed. This should ensure an early diagnosis of development of an autoimmune disorder that will require treatment, rather than always considering these patients to be affected by a benign self-limited disorder like Kikuchi's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-125
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Rheumatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1999


  • Kikuchi's disease
  • Lymphadenitis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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